Unless you’ve been living in complete isolation over the past several years, I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ve heard about the importance of gut health and some of the stuff you can do to better support a healthy gut environment.
The main idea here is — take care of your gut and your gut will help take care of you!
But, how exactly do you go about establishing a healthier gut environment?
One of the most often cited — and most effective —ways to do so is by adding fermented foods into your diet.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics (or good bacteria), which is an essential component to bringing balance and bacterial diversity back to the flora found in our gut.
When our gut flora is in balance, beautiful things begin to happen.
According to The Big Book of Kombucha (Hannah Crum & Alex LaGory) — “when done right, fermentation of food helps with:
breaking down proteins
Sounds like some pretty amazing reasons to jump on the fermented foods train, doesn’t it?
But, before you start adding fermented foods to your diet, there are a few things to consider if you are a pregnant or nursing mama first.
What is Kombucha?
Fermented foods come in a variety of different forms. Some of the more familiar foods that undergo the fermentation process include probiotic yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi, and more!
Of course, one of the fermented foods currently gaining some of the most popularity in recent years is — you guessed it — kombucha!
But, what exactly is kombucha?
“The simplest description of kombucha is that it is a fermented tea. Sure, we all know what tea is, but what exactly is fermentation? And how could a whole generation of Americans have been raised thinking ‘fermented’ means ‘rotten and moldy’ or ‘alcoholic’ when for millennia fermentation has been inextricably linked to human survival? The good news in that fermentation’s stock is on the rise, and kombucha is a big reason why.”
Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented sweet tea made though a combination of adding tea and sugar with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
Once the fermentation process begins — the sugar from the sweet tea feeds the SCOBY, aiding in its growth of beneficial colonies of bacteria.
As kombucha is a fermented drink, it is important to note that alcohol is a by-product as it naturally occurs during the fermentation process and cannot be avoided.
So, is the process of how kombucha’s made the real concern when it comes to its safety while breastfeeding?
Health Benefits of Kombucha
Truth be told, it’s the bacteria factor and alcohol content that make many question the safety of kombucha whether they’re a breastfeeding mama or not.
But for those avid kombucha drinkers who swear by the numerous health claims this healing elixir provides, there really is no question as to whether or not this drink should be consumed as part of their daily routine.
After all, the ancient tradition of consuming fermented beverages for medicinal and nutritional benefits have been used by human societies dating back centuries, which is why modern-day people have now added them back into their diet and the reason why you’ve probably noticed all the new flavors and brands of kombucha added regularly to even our mainstream supermarket shelves.
Here are some of the many benefits observed by drinking kombucha:
Promotes healthy detoxification
Rebuilds connective tissue
Relieves headache & migraine
Aids healthy cell regeneration
Lowers glucose levels
and more! (source)
Promotes healthy bacteria in the gut
Rebalances homeostasis in the body
Supports healthy liver function
Improves digestion & bowl function
Reduces blood pressure
Destroys free radicals
Helps clear candida in the body
Is kombucha safe while breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, there currently isn’t any real research on the safety of kombucha while breastfeeding.
I wish I had a better answer for you because, for all those extreme kombucha lovers out there — well, I know it’s really hard giving up the booch!
According to Infant Risk Center, the world’s leading research center for medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding, kombucha was rated as falling into the L5 Risk Category meaning that this is “a potentially hazardous product and a breastfeeding mother should not use it.” (source)
Enough said, right?
I mean, if the leading authority on medication safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is questioning the safety of kombucha while breastfeeding and classifying it as a “potentially hazardous product” then why on earth would you ever question that recommendation?
I know it definitely scared me and made me pause when I originally looked it up.
But before you jump to conclusions — especially if you’ve already consumed kombucha while nursing — it’s important to understand the full picture.
As I mentioned above, there currently isn’t any real research on the safety of kombucha while breastfeeding.
So what this means is we can’t, with any certainty, say that kombucha is 100% safe to consume while breastfeeding, but (again, since there isn’t currently any significant research) we can’t completely say that it’s NOT safe either — hence the reason why it falls into the L5 Risk Category.